Publication - Statistics

Coronavirus (COVID-19): ONS Infection Survey results – characteristics data – 22 April 2021

Published: 22 Apr 2021

Characteristics data from the ONS COVID-19 infection survey published on 22 April 2021.

Published:
22 Apr 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): ONS Infection Survey results – characteristics data – 22 April 2021

This article looks at how often individuals are reporting social contact with other people outside their own household, either socially distanced or physical contact. As part of survey visits, individuals were asked how many people outside their household, aged 17 years and under, 18 to 69 years and 70 years and over, they had had contact with up to seven days prior to each study visit.

Contact refers to either of the following:

  • socially distanced contact – direct contact with social distancing only
  • physical contact – physical contact, such as a handshake or personal care, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)

This is the first time that data on socially distanced and physical contacts for Scotland has been presented. Fortnightly estimates are available for the time period between 20 September 2020 and 3 April 2021.

Estimates have been weighted to be representative of the total population in Scotland. Analysis includes all people taking part in the survey. Contact analysis is presented for school-age children (age two years to school year S4) and adults (school year S5 and above).

The number of contacts is reported in the following groups:

  • 0 (no reported contacts)
  • 1 to 5 (reported contacts)
  • 6 to 10 (reported contacts)
  • 11 to 20 (reported contacts)
  • 21 or more (reported contacts)

Socially distanced contacts – school-age children

The proportion of school-age children reporting each category of number of socially distanced contacts is shown in Figure 1.

Socially distanced contacts school-age children had with those aged under 70 years has increased throughout March 2021 after a decrease in early/mid-January 2021. This increase appears to coincide with the phased reopening of schools.

Figure 1: Proportion of school-age children by number of socially distanced contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 3 April 2021

Proportion of school-age children by number of socially distanced contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 3 April 2021

There is a consistent trend over time, with school-age children reporting more socially distanced contacts with those aged under 18 years than with people aged 18 to 69 years or those aged 70 years and over.

Socially distanced contacts – adults

The proportion of adults reporting each category of number of socially distanced contacts is shown in Figure 2.

Socially distanced contacts adults had with all age groups has increased throughout March 2021 after a decrease in early/mid-January 2021. There is less of a pronounced rise in the proportion of socially distanced contacts with people aged over 70 years.

Figure 2: Proportion of adults by number of socially distanced contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 3 April 2021

Proportion of adults by number of socially distanced contacts with different age groups, from 20 September 2020 to 3 April 2021​​​​​​​

There is a consistent trend over time, with adults reporting more socially distanced contacts with those aged 18 to 69 years than with people under the age of 18 years or 70 years and over.

Physical contacts – school-age children

Among school-age children, trends in physical contacts are very similar to socially distanced contacts trends across Scotland, with increases in contacts through March 2021.

In school-age children, physical contacts with all age groups has increased since early March, particularly in those aged under 70 years.

There is a consistent trend over time, with school-age children reporting to have more physical contacts with those aged under 18 years than with those aged 18 to 69 years or 70 years and over.

Physical contacts – adults

Among adults, trends in physical contacts over time are very similar to socially distanced contact trends across Scotland, with increases in contacts through March 2021.

In adults, physical contacts with those aged under 18 years has increased since early March. Physical contacts with those aged over 18 years appear to be level in recent weeks.

There is a consistent trend over time, with adults reporting more physical contacts with those aged 18 to 69 years than with people under the age of 18 years and those 70 years and over.

Methodology and further information

  1. The population used in the headline analysis relates to the community population (private households) aged two years and over, and does not include people in hospital, care homes or other institutional settings, where rates of COVID-19 infection are likely to be different.
  2. This analysis includes all study participants between 20 September 2020 and 3 April 2021, regardless of whether they tested positive or negative for COVID-19.
  3. The dates shown in the above figures refer to the last date in each fortnight for which estimates are produced.

The full article was published by the Office for National Statistics on 22 April 2021, which includes data for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, can be accessed here.

More information about the COVID-19 Infection Survey in Scotland can be found on the information page on the Scottish Government website, and previous COVID-19 Infection Survey data for Scotland can be found in this collection.